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Johnny Marr's Manifesto for Music-Making

Updated: May 26

In the heart of Manchester, within the walls of an industrial-chic converted factory studio, I found myself immersed in the creative sanctuary of Johnny Marr, a musical luminary who has spent four decades harmonizing the art and science of music making. Our rendezvous unfolded over two sun-drenched summer days, capturing the essence of Marr's creative process and unveiling the secrets behind his sustained ingenuity, which has become a guiding light for aspiring musicians worldwide.

The Marr Manifesto - A Symphony of Imagination, DIY Spirit, and Collaboration in Music Making

1 Imagination - Transforming Dreams Into Soundscapes

Marr's manifesto kicks off with the cornerstone of imagination. A dreamer, maker, and doer, Marr wields his guitar as a magical wand, conjuring art from the depths of his imagination. In an era where technology innovations have democratized music production, Marr embraces the marriage of creativity and technology. It's the fusion of "ones and zeros" with the human heart and spirit that, in Marr's words, manipulates brilliance into a piece of work that resonates with humanity.

"Imagination and the human heart and the human spirit, which is the thing that goes into those ones and zeros, and manipulates them, sometimes brilliantly, and sometimes accidentally, into a piece of work that the other humans can react to."

Photo credit: Mat Bancroft & Ben Thornley @ Sitcom Soldiers

2 Do-It-Yourself - Picasso's Wisdom in Musical Creation

The second pillar of Marr's manifesto pays homage to his strong work ethic and the doer ethos, echoing Picasso's timeless mantra: "Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working." For Marr, learning is an active pursuit, fueled by a commitment to his own style, a willingness to accept failure, and an unyielding persistence in the face of setbacks. His path to personal mastery is paved with authenticity and a relentless search for creative inspiration.

Photo credit: Roy Sharples

3 Craftsmanship - the Pursuit of Musical Greatness

Marr's commitment to craftsmanship forms the third tenet of his manifesto. To achieve greatness, he emphasizes self-discipline, a mindset guiding choices, decisions, and actions. Marr views playing the guitar not just as a skill but as a tool for creativity, a means of crafting something truly artistic. The pursuit of peak performance, he contends, demands sacrifices for learning, growth, and the development of essential skills.

"From the minute I could string a few chords together, I always saw the playing of an instrument as the pursuit of creating something. I use the guitar as a tool for creativity and making something artistic."

Photo credit: Mat Bancroft & Ben Thornley @ Sitcom Soldiers

4 Collaboration - Illuminating the Path Forward

The fourth principle urges musicians to overturn the status quo through collaboration, embracing originality and forging unique connections between disparate universes. Marr sees collaboration as a catalyst for new experiences and inspiration, a powerful force that propels the world into an unknown future.

"The idea of feeling like you never know enough is an inspiring concept, and collaboration is a useful trigger for new experiences and inspiration."

Photo credit: Mat Bancroft & Ben Thornley @ Sitcom Soldiers

5 Mentorship- Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

The final pillar of Marr's manifesto underscores the importance of mentorship. Learning from history, seeking counsel from trusted voices, and standing on the shoulders of giants propel one's musical journey forward. Positive role models, according to Marr, become instrumental in nurturing talent and accelerating progress.

"We had a couple of producers in the early days, and I just watched those guys like a hawk, and in some ways, there were a couple of characters who became mentors to me. I was like a sponge trying to learn everything I could from these older people."

Photo credit: Roy Sharples

Johnny Marr's manifesto for musicianship is not just a set of principles; it's a living testament to a life dedicated to the art and science of music-making. Aspiring musicians, immerse yourself in the symphony of imagination, embrace the DIY spirit, hone your craftsmanship, foster collaborations, and stand on the shoulders of giants. For in Marr's world, the chords of our soul are not just played; they are carefully woven into the fabric of our shared human experience.

Watch the documentary "Creativity in the Digital Age"


Executive Producers: Roy Sharples and Steve Franklin. Art Direction: Mat Bancroft. Production Direction: Ben Thornley. Filmed by: Sitcom Soldiers. Artist Management: Sammi Wild and Gary Cohen, ATC Management.

Thank you

Johnny Marr, Dave Cronen, Trust Management, Doviak, Iwan Gronow, Jack Mitchell, Natasha Kay-Sportelli, and Microsoft.

Unleash Your Creativity – Read "Creativity Without Frontiers" Today!


Roy Sharples

Founder and CEO of Unknown Origins Creative Studios, is in the fight against unoriginality by unleashing creative bravery. Author of "Creativity Without Frontiers: How to make the invisible visible by lighting the way into the future."

Photo credit: Brian Smale

Attitude. Imagination. Execution.

Unknown Origins Creative Studios. All rights reserved © copyright 2021

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